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Air pollution is a well-known villain in the modern world. The dark smoke emanates from cars and factories, while big cities have been blamed for everything from climate change to the reduced visibility of the stars in the night sky.
But the scourge of urban smog isn’t the only thing that contributes to air pollution. In fact, it might be time to point the finger of blame at a surprising culprit: farms.
Agricultural land in California alone contributes to between 25 and 41 percent of the nitrogen oxide in the air, a dismaying new study conducted by the University of California at Davis found. Nitrogen oxide is a blanket term for several compounds made of nitrogen and oxygen that contribute heavily to air pollution. While harmless in small quantities, large amounts of these gases can cause smog and even, in extreme circumstances, acid rain.